The Importance of Shifting Web Direct Business and the Future of OTAs
As professional hoteliers in 2016, you are all well aware that the fight for capturing and retaining online customers is a never-ending battle. Your bread and butter, the undiluted, commission-free web direct business is constantly being wooed by not only other properties, but by OTAs as well. As OTAs continue to merge and reach their influence into metasearch space, TripAdvisor, and even the vacation rental/individual unit playing field, it is becoming more and more important to place emphasis on shifting resources and focus on web direct.
Technology advances have enabled your customers to be much more savvy in their online abilities as well as their preferences. With the widespread acceptance and adoption of Airbnb as an alternative accommodation option, online consumers have become acutely aware of their lodging preferences. Additionally, they have the ability to search for exactly what they want, when they want, on any and every device.
While this may sound a little daunting, it is actually simply a huge opportunity for you to take advantage of. It is now easier than ever for to convert online customers as long as you are investing in the proper technology, marketing initiatives, and content to speak to them. To capture today’s online travelers, hotel websites need to be able to compete with other hotels and resorts, as well as an apartment, townhome, or stand-alone house. Your websites’ merchandising capabilities and quality of content are critical tactics to accomplishing this.
OTAs will continue to dominate in terms of reach and flashy specials. Individual unit offerings such as Airbnb and HomeAway will continue to chip away picky travelers who cannot find properties that fit their specific tastes. Hotels need to make a conscious effort to communicate distinct experiences to preference-savy shoppers, offer the best prices to direct customers, and deliver unique benefits on-site that individual units and OTAs cannot promise or match.